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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Meals on Wheels: The Annushka

Not only a charming spot for a cup of hot tea or a quirky venue for a dinner party, the Annushka restaurant tramcar is a moving slice of history that has played an interesting role in both literature and the life of the city.

Anyone who has been to Chistiye Prudy must have seen the "Annushka" tram, a brightly painted restaurant on rails circling the boulevard.

While this Moscow institution dates back to 1989, the history of the real "A" tramcar route known as Annushka is almost a century long. Not only does it have significant literary associations, its story also tells much about the history of Moscow tramcars in general.

The capital's first tramcar appeared in 1889. By 1911, all radial tramcar routes that connected Moscow suburbs with the city center were united by two circle routes.

The first one, route A, started at the Kremlyovskaya-Moskvoretskaya embankment and ran around the Boulevard Ring. Having made its debut on Dec. 29, 1911, it earned the nickname Annushka, a diminutive form of the name Anna.

The second line, route B, was dubbed "Bukahska" or "bug" and circled the Garden Ring. It has since been replaced by a trolleybus service.

The Annushka tram became even more popular after it was featured in Mikhail Bulgakov's "The Master and Margarita." At the beginning of the novel, Berlioz, a Moscow writer, slips on sunflower oil accidentally spilt on the tram tracks by a woman named Annushka, and he tragically dies under the wheels of a tram.

Although this incident takes place near Patriarch's Ponds in the novel, the lack of tramlines at that location has led to a widespread belief that Bulgakov's episode actually took place at Chistoprudny Bulvar -- which is where the Annushka tram-restaurant still runs.